The best fried clams in Massachusetts are definitely plentiful. We have tons of options to choose from to get our fix of those crispy, juicy, nuggets of deliciousness.

The History Of Fried Clams In Massachusetts

According to Wikipedia, the modern deep-fried, breaded version of fried clams is generally credited to Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman from Essex, Mass. It’s said that he created the first batch on July 3, 1916 at his small restaurant by the road that’s now Woodman’s of Essex. At the time, one of his specialties was potato chips, so he had that big vats to deep fry. For the fried clams, he collected the clams himself from the mud flats of the Essex River, which was close to where he lived.

What Makes Fried Clams Great

This may be controversial, but if your fried clams don’t have bellies, you’re eating fried rubber bands. Argue with the wall. This is a pro-bellies post. “Clam strips” will not be part of this discussion. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk actual delicious fried clams.

This may be my opinion, but I think we can all agree that the best fried clams are crispy without being overdone. They’re delicious but let the clam flavor shine through. And the #1 reason why you need bellies, they have to be juicy. For me, the bigger the belly, the better. If they don’t have all three, they’re not on the list.

How We Picked The Best Fried Clams In Massachusetts

What better way to find the best fried clams in Massachusetts than to ask for recommendations. So we polled our Facebook friends to find out where their go-to spot is for their summer fix. Safe to say, people are very serious about their fried clams, and came out strong in defense of their favorites. The following list is a small representation of the responses we received. Each of these selections got multiple votes. Here are our picks for the best fried clams in Massachusetts.

  • Woodman's Of Essex in Ipswich


    Since it’s the creator, it would have to go first. Woodman’s also got multiple votes from our listeners. They also have $5 kids meals, as well as daily specials. They also got bonus points for their gluten-free menu that Danny said was the best around. And Jenn said that “they are fried to perfection not too greasy and full of flavor.”

  • Tony's Clam Shack in Quincy

    A fried clam plate with onion rings. One of them in the shape of a heart on the top.

    Now open for their 60th season, Tony’s Clam Shop is located at 861 Quincy Shore Drive in Quincy. I’ve eaten there on several occasions over the years, and can definitely vouch for their fried clam goodness. Located on Quincy’s historic Wollaston Beach, you can take your fried clams on their ocean front patio or backyard garden.

  • The Clam Box in Quincy

    Also located on Wollaston Beach in Quincy, The Clam Box got several votes of approval from listeners. About The Clam Box, Nick said, “clams are always fresh lightly battered.. onion rings are to die for. Good services. Huge portions and a great view to the beach across the road.”

  • Kool Kone in Wareham

    A mention for my hometown Kool Kone in Wareham. Personally, I’ve never gotten a bad meal at Kool Kone, and the portions are huge. Megan’s a fan and says, “I’ve never been disappointed! Large plate, always fresh – pair it with their clam cakes and a chocolate/vanilla swirl for dessert!”

  • Captain John's in Lowell

    A huge plate of fried clams, fish, and topped with a tower of fried onion rings.

    Several votes for Captain John’s in Lowell. Nay Mum Lin says, “I’ve tried a lot of places mentioned here but Captain John’s in Lowell takes the cake. Best fried scallops and they only do whole belly clams. Slaw is very good. They could use better shrimp but maybe there’s an option and up charge for larger shrimp. Also, this place is a complete DUMP but can’t deny the food.” Not sure we needed the dump review, but I guess it’s good to manage expectations. Lol  Tammy said, ” price is great, good portions and coleslaw and tarter is amazing !!!!”  And Michelle said, “just look at this plate . The best you will ever have!!! Cash only!” 

  • Wave's Seafood in Braintree

    Waves Seafood in Braintree. Carla is a big fan and said, “they are clean , you don’t feel like you’re eating sand , the portions are on point , and the clams with the bellies are NEVER sticking together (a pet piece of mine being a Bostonian all my life I want them cooked light and right . Waves does just that !!! Oh and the staff are super friendly! Go see for yourself!”
  • 3 Wellfeet Locations

    Jennifer Anne recommended three:  “I’ve got 3 lol their all so fresh and have a “sweetness” to them…whole belly class are the way to go!!”

    Red tray with a box of onion rings and another with fried clams and fries.

    Plate of fried clams and fried with tarter sauce, a lemon wedge and tarter sauce

  • Gene's Famous Seafood in Fairhaven

    Large plate of fried clams with scallops and fries on a blue table.

    Krista Roy recommends Gene’s Famous Seafood in Fairhaven… “I’ve been going there since i was a kid! in my opinion it has not changed.. they been in business for 61 years for a reason!”

  • Essex Seafood in Essex, MA

    Large plate of fried clams and fries with fries

    Justine Baez recommends:  “Essex Seafood for SURE. This is a fisherman’s platter but you can see some clams. Big portions, love the staff, very clean restaurant, good parking. I love it.”

  • Other Vote-Getters

    Kimball Farm – 3 Massachusetts and 1 New Hampshire locations. Morgan said, “hands down. Huge portions too.”

    Park Lunch in Newburyport was recommended by Holly.

    Table of food with coleslaw on the left, a basket of fried scallops in the middle, and a plate of fried clams on the right.

    Colonial House on Savin Ave in Norwood recommended by Emma Lee – has the BEST clams & scallops!!! The seafood is always fresh, the batter taste amazing!! The onion rings are also homemade and are the best I’ve had!! The clam chowder is also really good & made from scratch!!! If you’re in the area, deff give them a try!! I actually just had some last night 😂 Wood’s Seafood in Plymouth was recommended by Felicia. She said “nothing like whole belly deep fried buttery clams !!!”

    Lenas Seafood was recommended by Stephanie Larson “because they have the best batter for them! They also have full belly or strips!!!”
    Mikey B’s in New Bedford. Tory Lyn says, “great portion cooked just right! Never over cooked.” 
    Kelly’s on Revere Beach. Kim Kendrix says, “Kelly’s on Revere Beach with their original tartar sauce – nothing better!”
    Causeway Restaurant in Gloucester. Sylvia McGrath says, “I think the best seafood restaurant is in Gloucester. It’s called Causeway. Big portions, great price, and the seafood or fish chowder has big pieces of seafood or fish. Get the cup instead of the bowl…unless that’s all you’re getting.”
    Seafood Sam’s Yarmouth Mass.…. Aneg says, they are, “delicious, sweet and tender”
  • Clam Shack in Salem Willows

    Clam Shack photos

    Photo of Clam Shack - "Whole belly clams (small)" - Salem, MA

    Ohhh yes! When you can see the bellies! The Clam Shack Salem Willows – where witches fly and clams fry! Love that. About Clam Shack, Nick said, “Clam shack Salem willows. Thank me later.” And according to New England Travel Today, “The clams are sweet, tender, and crunchy, and they come from local clam beds in Essex and Ipswich, considered by many to be the best in the world.”

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